Autism is reaching epidemic proportions in this country and the world. To give you an idea of just how fast it’s growing, the U.S. population grew by 13% during the 1990s, disabilities grew at a rate of 16%, and autism grew at a rate of 172%! According to the Autism Society, within 10 years, the annual costs associated with care for individuals with autism will be $200–$400 billion dollars. Today, at least one out of 150 children born in the United States will develop autism. (In certain parts of the country, those rates are estimated to be 1 out of 100. Some predict that if by the year 2020 we do not make significant changes, 1 in every 10 children will be affected by autism. That’s why it’s so important to understand the predisposing factors that play a role in its development. With that understanding, we can not only help to recover those who are already affected, but can also help to prevent future cases and stem the tide of this epidemic.
Most of the general public are not even aware that the condition of autism can be addressed and that it is possible to bring about a reversal of symptoms and recovery. In addition, most people are unaware of the many causative factors involved. What you’ll find in this book is not merely a theory, but a program in active use today—one that has been used by thousands of families. Still, implementing these suggestions will take time and patience. Autism: Pathways to Recovery is your doorway into both an approach to addressing autism and a world of support. Through the foundation and action steps offered here, you’ll get the grounding you need to understand the rationale for this program, as well as the basics of how to follow it. To complement this book, you can find active support, feedback, and information in my online chat room of families, available to you on my companion website, www.holistichealth.com. In addition, my other books and DVDs offer in-depth information as well as further guidance for every step of the program.
Parents of children with autism desperately seek answers. But since not all practitioners possess a basic understanding of this complex condition, misinformation abounds. The valiant physicians who have come forth to work in this field are overwhelmed by the urgency of need, the severity of symptoms, and the large numbers of children flocking to their practices. Many physicians find helping older children a heightened challenge, while few feel confident in addressing the most pronounced symptoms. Both in the United States and around the world, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive approach to autism that is driven by a comprehensive understanding of the underlying factors that lead to autism. That is what I aim to provide to you in the pages of this book.
Despite all of these challenges, and while I make no guarantees, I want to assure you that there is hope, and more. This is a path that many have walked to recover their children, starting with an understanding of the individual components that go awry to create autism. The most basic principle of this program is that knowledge empowers. The more you understand about the underlying causes, the easier it becomes to address recovery and to realize why you can have real hope, based on discrete scientific principles.
In looking at the current rise in autism rates, we must ask, “How did we get here?” Back in the 1950s, some practitioners attributed autism to “refrigerator mothers.” In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. Those who care for children with autism and walk the pathways to support those children in regaining health and function call upon every ounce of love, courage, persistence, and hope that they have. Indeed, many parents never knew their own inner storehouses of love and strength until they encountered this challenge. Given the day-to-day struggles that so many families with autism experience, there’s nothing more important for them than understanding that they are not alone, that there is hope, and a place to go for emotional support when they need it.
That’s why, along with some parents, I began my website’s online chat room (www.holistichealth.com) several years ago. There you will find not only new information, as the science of addressing autism continues to evolve, but also the extensive support network I referred to earlier. Emotional support is as important as scientific support for the choices that you will make on the road to recovery. While it’s never possible to make absolute promises, I want you to know that many parents have walked before you in helping their children down the pathways to health suggested in this book. The protocol you will find both here and on my website has made a significant difference for many children with autism of all ages and degrees of severity, and word about its success has spread.
In the pages of this book, you’ll first begin to familiarize yourself with the underlying scientific basis for all that I’ll suggest. While it may at first seem overwhelming, a clearer picture will emerge as you proceed. What seemed incomprehensible before will begin to make sense, and as you begin to implement some suggestions and see improvements, your confidence will increase. But even more important is something I’ve been privileged to witness firsthand: Following through on the health recommendations suggested here can relieve symptoms and changes lives. Progress along the road to recovery is possible for any child with autism. There is no magic age or age limitation with this approach.
This book will:
While I won’t be able to completely cover every one of the many complex issues integral both to autism and this approach, please use this book as an introductory guide. To actively use the program, it will be necessary to locate the supplemental information available in the websites, online newsletters, chat rooms, and DVDs, as well as the other sources mentioned in the additional resources section of this book.
At www.holistichealth.com, you can connect with other interested families currently enacting the kind of supports mentioned here. In addition, you can search by keyword through the approximately 14,000 articles that I’ve read over the past few years to locate the scientific findings, insights, and approaches I will share with you. Also on the site you will find extensive questions and answers about every aspect of this protocol from those using it. Taken together, all of this accumulated wisdom and experience offers an explanation for many of the observed behaviors and symptoms that are associated with autism, a framework from which to help reverse many of these traits, and scientific validation for why many of the therapies I’ll suggest are effective.
As a mother myself, as well as a scientist with extensive expertise in biochemistry, molecular biology, and biotechnology, I bring both a mother’s heart and a unique array of insight, scientific knowledge, and clinical experience to my approach to autism and other forms of what I consider “neurological inflammation.” My research and clinical experience in both allopathic and alternative medicine also enable me to take the best of both worlds and offer it to those following this approach.
To give you a comfort level as you consider this program and its underlying approach to health, let me share with you a little more about myself.
I was a co-founder and owner of a successful biotechnology company and have been a recognized expert in molecular biology in the field of DNA/RNA based diagnostics and therapeutics. For eighteen years, I served as a consultant to the medical and research community. More than twenty years ago I began isolating single-copy RNA messages from transformed cells at Strong Memorial Hospital Cancer Center at the University of Rochester. Later, while at Yale Medical Center, I worked to enhance the expression of specific eukaryotic RNAs from yeast.
What Is Neurological Inflammation?
Neurological Inflammation occurs when an inflammatory cascade releases inflammatory mediators. Neurological inflammation can be a result of the overexcitation of neurons, nerve pathways in the nervous system and brain, leading to misfiring, exhaustion, and ultimately the death of these nerves. When neurons die, chronic inflammation results, leading to poor nerve signaling and health imbalances. For example, the red swelling that surrounds a bug bite is actually the body’s inflammatory process at work. A very similar process can occur in the areas surrounding our nerves, even if we can’t see that internal process as clearly as we can the red bite on our skin’s surface.
At St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City, I developed custom diets and used nutritional supplements and transfer factor (immune builders found in the colostrums) to improve the cure rates of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients, later conducting molecular research on Transfer Factor at the Medical University of South Carolina. I’ve spent years studying the relationship between energy transport and modes of antibiotic resistance by bacteria and have written articles and chapters in books on the subject.
After becoming a naturopath, I established an alternative healthcare practice specializing in chronic inflammation and immunological and neurological disorders and attained considerable success in halting and in many cases reversing the effects of debilitating conditions, including ALS, MS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE,) Myasthenia gravis, and autism. I considered and addressed all these conditions as various forms of chronic neurological inflammation.
Over eight years ago, I found that the same integrative health principles I used in guiding adults with chronic inflammation and immunological and neurological disorders could benefit children with autism. To my surprise, recognizing autism as a form of chronic neurological inflammation opened up the use of techniques I had previously used successfully with adults. As I began to apply these principles and use these techniques, over time there was considerable improvement. With that discovery, I stepped onto a path that is more complex, more demanding— and for me, more rewarding—than any I’ve ever known.
Since then my focus on children with autism has drawn on every ounce of my expertise in molecular biology, biotechnology, immunology, infectious conditions, and biochemistry. The fruits of that work are offered to you through this book and all the associated services and resources of the Neurological Research Institute.
People often ask me how I came to develop these unique communication services to the autistic community. To me, it’s really been a natural evolution of my personal practice. As more and more children recovered on my program, I got wonderful feedback from the families I served. Yet I was faced with a dilemma: the rates of autism continued to rise. There was mounting need, yet the standard treatment approaches were not able to help the growing multitude of children. While many integrative approaches achieved some measure of success, there were still many children left untreated, as well as many others who attained only a partial recovery.
Meanwhile, over time, word of my successful treatment approach spread in the community of parents of children with autism. My personal practice soon grew a five-year waiting list. Clearly, this was an untenable wait for parents eager to recover their children. Due to the size of the epidemic, I knew that other capable doctors had been forced to close their practices to new patients. I was now fast approaching that same limit.
This combination of circumstances inspired me to try a totally different approach that would allow me to reach out and serve more families.
I decided to expand the number of children the program could reach by:
Instead of limiting the number of children to those whom I could see personally in my practice, extending my program to the greater autism community benefits more children. For me, that’s the bottom line. Now, instead of serving a few hundred families, I am able to offer this approach to thousands.
My overriding goal through in using all of these means is to empower parents. With greater knowledge, parents can make quality health care decisions on behalf of their children. When parents understand the underlying scientific rationale for the supplement suggestions, they can better grasp their child’s individual health needs and follow the program in order to effect recovery.
However, undertaking the program in this way does require parents to do more than many people are accustomed to doing to address a health issue. First, you must take the time to read the books, watch the DVDs, come to conferences, and search and read the older posts. It’s vital to interact with other families via the chat room to get the full benefit of the program. Even using all these resources, understanding the science will not happen overnight; it is a slow process as you immerse yourself. Know that you will be supported, helped, and guided by other veteran members of the chat room on the website to make the process smoother and easier. Ultimately, this is a program that requires you to take charge of your own—or your child’s—health. You are going to have to put in the time and the work to get your arms around it, but as you do, the team of families will be right there to support you every step of the way. I do not believe in telling you what to do; I believe in teaching you about the processes going on in the body so that you are in a better position to make informed choices on the path to health and wellness.
Still, no book can replace individual consultations with your practitioner of choice. I encourage parents to familiarize themselves with the protocols and discuss them with their practitioner. And I also welcome practitioners who would like to integrate this approach into their practice to read this book, access these resources, and attend the presentations I offer at various conferences. Accessing a proven protocol can give practitioners a basic understanding of the many elements involved in the presentation of autism. More complete information for practitioners can be found on the DVDs and books recommended in the resources section.
I encourage all of you to use this text as a handbook. While it’s designed to be read when you begin this program, I also hope that those of you already following the protocol will be able to use it to explain it to your practitioners, friends, and relatives. Although much of it may already be familiar, along with a complete explanation of the step-by-step approach, you may also find a few new gems. One of my goals in undertaking this approach is to empower parents, practitioners, and adults who have other, related health issues.
By nature, multifactorial conditions like autism are complex. Any form of individualized health care also must account for the many individual variations. Due to my goal of offering empowerment in health care, I seek to share the core science with you, rather than simply offering recommendations for addressing this condition. I do this so that you don’t have to take my word for the recommendations, but can understand for yourself why they are valid. This information not only empowers you, it also helps you follow the program.
At the same time, this science is complex, so I encourage a gradual immersion. As you first read this book, begin the steps, and avail yourself of the vast amount of information on the chat room, just take it one step at a time. Gradually, the program, and the science underlying it, will become more and more familiar.
Accordingly, I’ve designed this book to make it as easy as possible for busy parents, busy practitioners, and adults facing a chronic condition to become familiar with the foundations and begin the steps toward health.
In Part One, I’ll cover the foundational science. Following the basic introduction are two chapters detailing some of the core science underlying the program. These two chapters are designed so that the most essential material can be found in the first half to two thirds of each chapter—with more detailed information provided as the chapter progresses. That way, you can decide to read the more complex content now, skip it to read later on, or go back and reread it as you gain your footing. Don’t feel concerned if you need to read some of this material over and over. After all, most of you probably do not have an advanced scientific degree. But don’t worry, over time it does make sense—I promise!
And a word to the scientists and practitioners: Some of you may already be very familiar with the basic framework and will enjoy a few of the new ideas and clinical insights I’ll share. For those now considering for the first time the unique synergy between genetics, biochemical testing, and natural supplements that this book offers—I want to welcome you and say how honored I feel to be able to open further access to this promising new arena of scientific discovery. While you can rest assured that every single facet of this approach is built on a solid foundation of research and clinical practice, this handbook has a specific purpose: It’s a user’s guide to the program. Therefore, I’m not providing references and footnotes. However, all of the articles can be found on my website, where you will find an extensive list of resources.
In Part Two you will find the what’s and how’s of following the program. If you feel adventurous, as you read skip ahead to get a sense of what the basic steps are. There are specific things that you can and should begin to do right now, so feel free to begin right away if you would like to.
Finally, I know both from myself and my three daughters that different people learn in different ways. Some of us are more visual, some more linear and logical. Some learn better through seeing or hearing or touching or feeling. If you know yourself to be a visual learner, I also encourage you to consult the website, where there are many visual presentations of the ideas contained in this book. While you’ll note that this book also contains some visuals, its basic purpose is to unfold the ideas in a linear, narrative sequence, and I hope that this will be helpful for all of you who learn that way.
Once upon a time . . . life was a lot simpler. And just as life is more complex today, so are our illnesses. We have fast food, fast cars, and a fast pace of life, with all the stressors that go with it. Years ago as Father Knows Best played on our black and white televisions. Mom was typically the homemaker while Dad went to work. Now it’s common for both parents to work in order to make ends meet, with everyone juggling work and family responsibilities. Since the 1950s, the divorce rate has doubled, resulting in more single-parent households, with more people than ever before acting as both Mom and Dad. It sometimes seems that the more progress we make, the more difficult things become. Or, as the Dalai Lama put it, “We have more conveniences, but less time, more experts but more problems, fast food but slow digestion, and more medicines but less healthiness.”
These and hundreds of other changes have not only added stress to our lives, they have also greatly increased our exposure to chemicals. In 1950, there were forty million cars on the road, compared with the over 225 million vehicles in 2000. The exhaust from this nearly 600% increase has brought an equivalent increase in carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde, and polycyclic hydrocarbons. And that’s not the only source of novel chemicals to which our bodies must adjust. With more processed foods, over-the-counter and prescription medicines, and health and beauty products, the last decades have seen an explosion of product offerings, with all product categories bringing increasing amounts of chemicals to us and to our water, earth, and air. Recent studies connect the rising incidence of asthma to air quality and reveal that, in many regions, the water supply contains residues of hormones and prescription drugs. In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, there have also been larger societal changes that produce additional stress, whether the source is fear of terrorism, economic worries, the challenges of daily life, or addressing children with special needs.
How do all of these stressors and exposures combine to affect us? For far too long, we’ve simply assumed that we could handle it all. Yet these diverse factors combine and interact, increasing certain inflammatory mediators in our bodies, so that the stress we are under in turn increases our risk factors for everything from the common cold to cancer. And while we cannot predict the precise turning point when underlying stress combined with genetic susceptibilities and infectious diseases will manifest as a health condition, we do know from research that there are well defined pathways that link the stress people experience to physical illness. For this reason I have given talks solely on the role of stress, not only in autism but for those who are the caregivers for those with autism and other neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Many of the tenets of this program are applicable to other health conditions. That is why one mantra for those in the program is “It’s not just about autism.” When we look at the underlying genetic susceptibilities to autism we must consider that family members not suffering from autism may be at risk for related conditions. The excess stress the parents inevitably experience will tend to increase health risk. Once a family has recovered a child, other family members will often begin to use this program to address their own, related health conditions.
More specifically, the same underlying factors that can lead to autism may also be responsible for the increase in Alzheimer’s disease, the increase in chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, the increase in ADD/ADHD, as well as the increase in mitochondrial disease. A growing number of adults with chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia use the very same program that has proven so effective for autism and achieved positive results with these adult conditions. This supports the view that these and other adult health conditions arise from many of the same factors.
In fact, it’s possible to view the autism epidemic as the tip of the iceberg in terms of future increased/epidemic rates of a range of disorders. And that ‘s why it is so critical to understand the why behind the condition, so that we can make informed choices to not only reverse the tide of autism, but to prevent similar increases in related conditions.
With the rising rate of autism, neurological ailments like Parkinson’s disease and chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and others, many people are facing the fact that these disorders aren’t as easy to “fix” as we first hoped they would be back in the 1950s. Where once people felt assured that the right drug could combat almost any disease, we’re just beginning to understand that health conditions are more complex than that, and do not occur as an isolated incident or event. There is no panacea, no magic cure, nor do most conditions arise from one sole cause, like a hostile bug or a toxin. Many different factors act together to influence their development, and as our understanding of their complex origins changes, so must the manner in which we address them. Still, most people and even many doctors find this complexity confusing, as they have to face up to the reality that the days of simple treatments and health guarantees are behind us. So is the time when we could entirely entrust our health to experts. As a result, many more people have decided to take matters into their own hands. In this new territory, people need solid information and a road map, with clear directions they can follow to journey toward healing. That is what this book aims to offer.
Before we move forward, if you are the parent of a child with autism (or are yourself struggling with a health issue) and you are eager to begin with some actual health steps, now or at any time you would like to, you can check out chapter 5, which offers some concrete action steps you can put in place as you lay down your groundwork of understanding by reading this and the next several chapters.
In our society, the conventional wisdom holds that for every health problem there is a “magic bullet,” and if only we could find it, the problem could be eliminated. Accordingly, in certain billion-dollar industries, the search is on for the miracle drug that provide an instant cure. Reflecting upon the evolution of modern medicine, it’s important to recognize one of its highpoints—the mid-twentieth-century advent of antibiotics. These medical treatments were hailed in their day, and were undoubtedly successful for acute bacterial infections. At one time, an antibiotic could readily treat nearly any bacterial infection. But now a decline in the efficacy of antibiotics, along with better research on their downside, reveals their limitations.
Moreover, the “magic bullet” approach to health, typified by antibiotics, has not proven well suited to the prevalent, chronic inflammatory conditions we now encounter in the twenty-first century. There are quite a number of major chronic conditions for which no magic bullet has ever materialized—despite decades of research. Even with this ever more evident shortfall, for the most part our approach to illness has not changed drastically over the last sixty years.
The persistence of the myth of the magic bullet over time represents a naïve belief — like the belief in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny — that is best outgrown for a mature understanding of health. Yes, it’s a challenge to change and let go of undemanding explanations, but speaking as a molecular biologist, I derive inspiration from this wonder of complexity that we all are, and a sense of satisfaction associated with understanding the “why” behind what we perceive.
As a scientist, I’m also accustomed to mastering very tough challenges. And I know from encountering so many caring families that for anyone who still believes in the instant cure there can be no wake-up call more startling than living with children who suffer from autism. This experience cannot be readily imagined by others. Beyond the daily struggles are the many unanswered questions that reverberate during the few quiet moments you have to yourself: “Why did this happen to my child? How did it happen? What should we do?”
If we can no longer rely on the magic bullet, what’s the best approach?
Whether it’s autism or some other health concern, the greatest potential for the next phase of medicine lies in recognizing the multiple factors contributing to a health problem and customizing individualized treatment approaches. As we move beyond the prevailing belief that each condition has a single cause and treatment, we come to recognize that our approach needs to be as unique and individual as we are. When our illnesses were simpler, we could address a sole factor and regain health. But now that they are more complex, we need to address multiple factors.
Erika Check, writing in Nature, in September, 2003, said the following:
Medicine’s molecular revolution is long overdue. By now, enthusiasts led us to believe, gene therapy and related treatments should have transformed clinical practice.
Diseases, they told us, would be cured at their genetic roots, by repairing defective DNA or by disabling the genes of infectious microbes. But it has proved frustratingly difficult to make these methods work in the clinic. If you get sick, your doctor will probably still treat you with the pills and potions of old fashioned medicinal chemistry.
Nearly all ailments occur in a wider context, with multiple factors from within and without acting upon us. Among the many factors influencing the likelihood that we will develop any given condition are the stress load, the environment — and the toxins we absorb from it, the total number of infectious agents to which we are exposed, and any underlying genetic susceptibility. This combination of risk factors, acting more powerfully than ever before, makes it vital to address all the contributing factors to a health issue. In this more complex environment, we no longer have the luxury of limiting our attention (or treatment) to a single factor. We need to access approaches that address all the critical factors. The approach detailed in this book is your entrée into this new kind of health care.
When we hear the debate among scientists as to what is the right approach for a given ailment, like autism, it’s important to recognize that each of them may have something to offer. For example, one doctor may feel that the key issue in autism is chronic viral infection, another might focus on metal toxicity, and a third on the lack of the biochemical metallothionein. In a sense, all of them are right. That’s why if we address just one causative factor, it’s possible we may be overlooking something else. I believe that taking the best elements from all these approaches—and customizing them to your child’s unique genetic needs—leads to synergistic effects and better results.
Accordingly, in the approaches to which I’ll introduce you in this book, you (or your practitioner) will be the ones to design the customized program that is right for your child (or for you, if you’re suffering from a health problem.) I’ll orient you to the principles, offer you a selection of tools and recommendations, and guide you through the steps—but ultimately your child’s individual responses, or your own if you have the health issue, will determine both the pace as well as the nature of each step along the way.
When we first widen our lens to look at all these factors, this new territory can seem so vast and complex. I want to offer a roadmap through it, so that you can focus your efforts on what I’ve discovered over the years of my practice to be the most helpful ways to intervene. I’ll focus on the approach I’ve refined and recommended over the last decade. You’ll receive both an overview and a step-by-step guide on how to specifically address autism in children. Although I focus on autism, please understand, as I mentioned earlier, that the same philosophy and methods can be applied to many different conditions. While I don’t cover those in detail here, if you are seeking further information, please consult my website, www.holistichealth.com, where you can join a discussion group in which others undertaking this approach for various ailments share their experience and ask and answer questions.
I have often told the over 8800 families who have traveled these pathways to recover their children, undertaking this program is not a sprint—it’s a marathon. Pace yourself for the journey, and Godspeed!
Research indicates that in individuals with autism, certain typical imbalances occur. These imbalances impact the proper functioning of the organ systems, the neurotransmitters, and many interactive biochemical processes in the body. For example, organ system imbalances can result in allergies, reactive responses to foods, and digestive disturbances, all of which are quite common in children with autism. Neurotransmitter imbalances can impact behavior, mood, attention, and speech. Trying to address all these different areas of imbalance can seem overwhelming, and parents are often in “triage” mode, trying to put out the latest fire before racing to the next crisis, making it harder to gain an overall perspective on what is going on with their child.
When, as a scientist, I look at a child with autism, I see someone who is experiencing an extensive degree of systemic and metabolic disorganization that challenges the balanced functioning of many bodily systems. Supporting that person means identifying what’s needed to reorganize their functioning so that it’s more successful and balanced. It can sometimes feel like one is taking apart the pieces of a puzzle and putting them back together in a healthier arrangement for that child. And in a certain sense, that is exactly what we are doing.
As a result, identifying and moving just a single piece will not always be sufficient to solve this complex puzzle. We have to address and reorganize all the pieces in their relation to each other. Beginning with the next chapter, this book will help you understand both the individual pieces—to the extent we now understand them—and the interplay among them. The step-by-step program explained in the chapters of Part Two will direct you down a sequential pathway that will support your child into a healthier reorganization. At the end of all of these pathways, it’s my hope that each of you will discover that the puzzle has been largely solved, and that your child has moved toward health, function, and biochemical balance.
Sometimes, a number of seemingly unrelated events occur simultaneously, resulting in disaster. A prime example of this was the death of Princess Diana. If she had been wearing her seatbelt, if the car hadn’t been speeding, if the driver hadn’t been drinking, if the paparazzi weren’t chasing the car, if they hadn’t driven into a narrow tunnel . . . if there had been a way to eliminate any one of those factors, that tragedy might have been averted. The multitude of factors that must occur to create the condition we call “autism” can be viewed in a similar fashion. Without a particular combination of genetic mutations, heavy metal toxicities, chronic viral infection, underlying bacterial infections, and excitotoxin damage leading to a negative cascade of neurological events, then autism (and other spectrum disorders) might not have manifested. But they did, and it did, and so we need to recognize and accept while initiating a step-by-step process to reverse the disorder.
When seeking to address autism and other complex conditions, we have tended to assume that the same approach should work for all people—but it’s just not so. Even well-intentioned integrative practitioners tend to overlook the reality of genetic individuality and prescribe the same program for all sufferers of a health problem. That view fails to account for why some people react well to a given substance, while others do not. Whether it’s a food, a drug, or even a vitamin, people react differently, and as a scientist, I believe that it’s our job to understand why.
Why does one person react to a drug, while another does not? Why is someone allergic to a given food that another can eat without harm? We can’t begin to answer questions like these without taking many factors into account. As a result, our approaches haven fallen short, in that we really don’t understand why a program works for some and not for others. In the past, as scientific experts, in the face of different responses to treatments, we just had to shrug and walk away, without examining these differences and understanding their significance, or customizing our treatments to take them into account. If they worked for a certain percentage of people, that was considered good enough. But I believe that we need to constantly work at the frontiers of science and expand our approaches so that we are able to take individual differences into account and, by doing so, help each and every person who is affected. While I believe that one day all health care will be personalized, fortunately, as it relates to autism and related conditions, we already have new tools for that level of personalization.
Through the new science of Nutrigenomics, we can now begin to account for the underlying genetic propensities that are risk factors for conditions such as autism. After customizing a health recovery program based on the Nutrigenomic findings, we can next undertake follow-up biochemical testing to ascertain biochemical status and toxic load and monitor our progress in addressing health issues. Thanks to this new science, we can at last address people as individuals in accordance with the principle of genetic individuality. With the discovery of human uniqueness through the ongoing work of characterizing the human genome, a new vista opens to truly personalized medicine. Let’s go there together. With what we discover when we truly individualize our approaches, we can at last address autism and other complex conditions. Let’s take a look at what that entails.
As I mentioned earlier, autism can be viewed as a puzzle created from a variety of biochemical, genetic, and physiological factors as they collide in the body of a developing child. To make informed decisions about undoing the damage that has been done in this “crash” of negative factors, each piece of this puzzle must be examined carefully, its function understood, and balance restored.
This book will look at each piece of this puzzle as I understand it at this time, and suggest programs of supplementation to address potential imbalances. The information presented reflects the most current view of the process of neurological inflammation that results in “autistic-like” behaviors, including the entire spectrum of autism-related conditions, including ADD and ADHD. This field is evolving almost daily with new information and new literature, and I will evolve with it. Future editions of this book will reflect new information as it comes to light.
First of all, customizing health programs requires that you get to know the many factors that act as toxic disruptors, contributing to imbalances. Here’s a brief list of some of the most common ones; a more detailed discussion can be found in later chapters:
Taken together, these imbalances can result in impaired function throughout many bodily systems. But your child may not suffer from every single imbalance. That’s why we must customize the approach to match his or her specific health needs. The good news is that through this program it is possible to address all of these areas and rebalance these systems. However, this process takes time and patience. Success can be achieved by calmly correcting each imbalance.
I am convinced that all the symptoms we see arise from causes that can be addressed. From the many families with whom I’ve been privileged to work I know that children with autism have tremendous brainpower, and I am dedicated to helping them shine.
Let’s take a moment to review some of the core understandings we’ve covered so far and add some new ones that we will come back to time again and again throughout this book. If you ever wonder where you are as you delve into the science, I invite you to come back to this list for review, as it will help you grasp the main aspects of this approach.
In Part One, I’ll introduce you to the scientific foundations of this approach, which is based on addressing the multiple factors that come together in any form of disease presentation. In addition, I’ll reveal certain key areas of our genetics and biochemistry that are impacted in both autism spectrum disorders and a wide range of other conditions.
Following years of research and clinical practice, it’s my conviction that a one-size-fits-all approach is inadequate to address a complex ailment like autism because of the diversity of factors involved. Moreover, one-size-fits-all is a less than an optimal approach for other chronic and serious disease syndromes. At this point in history, we are standing on the threshold of personalized medicine, and the philosophy and approach detailed in this book will become your entryway into that world.
Although personalization is new, in my experience, it can create better outcomes.
Here’s why: Personalized medicine is based on a deeper understanding of an individual’s uniqueness and customizes approaches to achieve the best possible combination for that person. Customization begins with a genetic profile, focusing on a range of key genes, with programs targeted to achieve the best results given the specific needs and/or weaknesses of a person with that unique combination of genes.
In the next chapter, “Nutrigenomics and the Methylation Cycle,” I’ll introduce you to the evolving science of genetic testing and supplementation to optimize genetic shortfalls. I’ll also focus on the biochemical pathway that I consider crucial to identifying areas of dysfunction and optimizing function—the methylation cycle.
Addressing toxins and infections through a careful and safe approach to systemic detoxification is key to healing. In chapter 3, “Promoting Detoxification Safely,” I’ll explore the rationale for detoxification, reveal obstacles to the detox process, and examine the key toxins we need to detoxify.
With all of this foundation in place, in Part Two I’ll orient you to how to use this book to undertake specific protocols. Chapter 4, “Step One, Part One—Building a Foundation for Health Balance” will introduce you to an overview of the Three-Step Program, and also reveal the foundational elements of the protocol that anyone can and should begin at once, even before they have received their genetic test results. In this chapter, you will learn which foods and ingredients to eliminate because they tend to exacerbate neurological inflammation. In chapter 5, “Promoting Healthy Digestion,” you’ll learn how to ready the bodily systems to undergo the health restoration that occurs in Step Two. Key to this approach is accessing customized supplement protocols for your child (or yourself, if you are an adult following this program). Chapter 6, “Step Two, Part One—Optimizing the Methylation Cycle,” and chapter 7, “Step Two, Part Two—Increasing Detoxification,” will take you through the program sequence and offer some of the foundational protocols you can consider. In chapter 8, “Remyelinating Nerves,” I offer the program sequence for restoring damaged nerves.
I will not give up until every child is given the chance to recover; until all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together, and this chronic condition no longer threatens the next generation.